Benito Mussolini Biography

Benito Mussolini was born in Predappio, Romagna, July 29, 1883. Benito qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901. In 1902 he emigrated to Switzerland, but was arrested for vagrancy. He returned to Italy to do military service.

Later, in 1908, he joined a newspaper in the Austrian town of Trento. Benito wrote a novel, "The Cardinal's Mistress".

He was later expelled by the Austrians. Benito became the editor at Forli of a socialist newspaper, La Lotta di Classe (The Class Struggle).

By 1910, Benito Mussolini became secretary of the local Socialist party. When Italy declared war on Turkey in 1911, Mussolini was imprisoned for pacifist propaganda. Mussolini became editor of the official Socialist newspaper "Avanti". He moved to Milan.

As World War I broke out, Benito Mussolini stated that Italy should not join. However, several months later he unexpectedly changed his position. He left the Socialist party.

In 1914, Benito Mussolini founded a new paper, "Il Popolo d'Italia", and the group "Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria". Mussolini was called up for military service where he was wounded in grenade practice in 1917.

Fascism became an organized political movement in March 1919 when Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento. Benito Mussolini entered parliament in 1921. When the governments of Giovanni Giolitti, Ivanoe Bonomi, and Luigi Facta failed, Mussolini was invited by the king in October 1922, to form government.

Benito Mussolini introduced strict censorship. He assumed dictatorial powers and dissolved all other political parties. In 1929 a concordat with the Vatican was signed, by which the Italian state was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

In foreign policy, Mussolini shifted to a form of aggressive nationalism. He bombed Corfu in 1923. He set up a puppet regime in Albania. He formed an alliance with Nazi Germany.

He made the "Pact of Steel" with Hitler in May, 1939. In April 1939, he occupied Albania. After the fall of France, Benito Mussolini declared war.

His army was of poor quality, and soon suffered defeats. His colleagues turned against him. The king dismissed and arrested him.

Mussolini was rescued by the Germans. He set up a Republican Fascist state in northern Italy. In April 1945, Benito Mussolini, along with his mistress Clara Petacci, was caught by Italian partisans. He was executed.

Benito Mussolini (July 29, 1883 - April 28, 1945) was an Italian who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of key figures in the creation of Fascism. He became the Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and Il Duce by 1925; he was the leader of the dictatorship until 1943. For a short period after this until his death, Mussolini was the Head of the Italian Social Republic. Italian fascism which Mussolini was amongst the founders, valued nationalism, corporatism, militarism, social progress and anti-communism combined with censorship and state propaganda. In the years following his creation of the fascist ideology, Mussolini influenced or achieved admiration from a wide variety of political figures, from various different backgrounds. Among the domestic achievements of Mussolini from the years 1924-1939 are: his public works programmes, for example the taming of the Pontine Marshes, the improvement of job opportunities, and public transport. Benito Mussolini also solved the Roman Question by concluding the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, as well as securing economic success in Italy's colonies and commercial dependencies. Although he originally sided with France against Germany, Mussolini became one of the main figures of the Axis powers and on 10 June 1940, Mussolini entered Italy into World War II on the side of Axis: three years later, Mussolini was ousted by his own government at the time of the Allied invasion. However, soon after his incarceration began, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German special forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces until the end of the war. In late April 1945 with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape to Switzerland, only to be captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Communist Italian partisans. His body was taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and confirmation of his demise.

Benito Mussolini was born in Dovia di Predappio in the province of Forlž in Emilia-Romagna, one of Alessandro Mussolini and Rosa Maltoni's fourteen children. Despite having two incomes in the household, the Mussolinis were poor, as were many families in Italy at this time. He was named Benito after Mexican reformist President Benito JuŠrez; the names Andrea and Amilcare were from Italian socialists Andrea Costa and Amilcare Cipriani. His mother was a teacher. His father was a blacksmith and a socialist activist. In 1891, Mussolini was banned from his local church for throwing stones at the congregation after Mass. Benito Mussolini had never been baptized, and would be only in 1927. He was sent to boarding school later that year and at age 11 was expelled for stabbing a fellow student in the hand and throwing an inkpot at a teacher. He did, however, receive good grades, and qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901.

In 1902, Mussolini emigrated to Switzerland to find work and to expand his political horizons. During a period when he was unable to find a permanent job there, he was arrested for vagrancy and jailed for one night. Later, after becoming involved in the socialist movement, he was deported to Italy and volunteered for military service. He later returned to Switzerland and a second attempt to deport him was halted when Swiss socialist parliamentarians held an emergency debate to discuss his treatment. Benito Mussolini found a job in February 1908 in the city of Trento, which was ethnically Italian but then under the control of Austria-Hungary. He did office work for the local socialist party and edited its newspaper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore ("The Future of the Worker"). It did not take him long to make contact with irredentist politician and journalist Cesare Battisti, and to agree to write for and edit his newspaper Il Popolo ("The People") in addition to the work he did for the party. He wrote a novel for Battisti's publication (Claudia Particella, l'amante del cardinale) which was published serially in 1910. He later dismissed it as written merely to smear the religious authorities. The novel was subsequently translated into English as The Cardinal's Mistress. In 1915, he had a son with Ida Dalser, a woman born in Sopramonte, a village near Trento. By the time Mussolini's novel was printed in Il Popolo, Mussolini was already back in Italy. His growing defiance of Royal authority and anti-clericalism got him in trouble with the authorities until he was finally deported at the end of September. He was prompted to return to Italy once again when his mother became ill. He became a journalist for the socialist newspaper, Avanti! (Forward!).

After initially writing on numerous occasions against the war in the socialist paper Avanti, Mussolini relented and he and his class were called up in August of 1915 for active duty. Although his military record was unremarkable, it was without blemish and it has been suggested that he may have been prevented from moving further along in the ranks due to his ongoing political agitation in various periodicals. Benito Mussolini's military experience is told in his work Diario Di Guerra. Overall he totalled about 9 months of active, front-line trench warfare. His military exploits ended in 1917 when he was wounded accidentally by the explosion of a mortar bomb in his trench. This left him with at least 40 shards of metal left in his body. He was discharged from the hospital in August 1917 and resumed his editor in chief position at his new paper the Popolo d'Italia.

Once Benito Mussolini returned from World War I he gave little credence to socialism (though for a time, his paper still called itself "a Socialist paper"). By February 1918, he was calling for the emergence of a leader "ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep." In May, he hinted in a speech in Bologna that he was going to take that position. On March 23, 1919, Mussolini reformed the Milan fascio as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad), consisting of 200 members. The Fascisti, led by one of Mussolini's close confidants, Dino Grandi, formed armed squads of war veterans called Blackshirts (or squadristi) to terrorize socialists, anarchists, and communists. The government rarely interfered. The Fascisti grew so rapidly that within two years, it transformed itself into the National Fascist Party at a congress in Rome. Also in 1921, Mussolini was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time.

The March on Rome was a pseudo-coup d'ťtat by which Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in Italy and ousted Prime Minister Luigi Facta. The "march" took place in 1922 between October 27 and October 29. On October 28, King Victor Emmanuel III refused his support to Facta and handed over power to Mussolini. Mussolini was supported by the military, the business class, and the liberal right-wing. As Prime Minister, the first years of Mussolini's rule were characterized by a right-wing coalition government composed of Fascists, nationalists, liberals and even two Catholic ministers from the Popular Party. The Fascists made up a small minority in his original governments. But, Mussolini's domestic goal was the eventual establishment of a totalitarian state with himself as supreme leader (Il Duce) a message that was articulated by the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo which was now edited by Mussolini's brother Arnaldo. To that end, Benito Mussolini obtained dictatorial powers for one year. He favored the complete restoration of state authority, with the integration of the Fasci di Combattimento into the armed forces (the foundation in January 1923 of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale) and the progressive identification of the party with the state. In political and social economy, he passed legislation that favored the wealthy industrial and agrarian classes (privatisations, liberalisations of rent laws and dismantlement of the unions). In 1923, Benito Mussolini sent Italian forces to invade Corfu during the "Corfu Incident." In the end, the League of Nations proved powerless and Greece was forced to comply with Italian demands.

In June 1923, the government passed the Acerbo Law, which transformed Italy into a single national constituency. It also granted a two-thirds majority of the seats in Parliament to the party or group of parties which had obtained at least 25 percent of the votes. This law was punctually applied in the elections of April 6, 1924. The "national alliance", consisting of Fascists, most of the old Liberals and others, won 64 percent of the vote largely by means of violence and voter intimidation. These tactics were especially prevalent in the south.

Benito Mussolini's influence in propaganda was such that he had surprisingly little opposition to suppress. Nonetheless, he was "slightly wounded in the nose" when he was shot on April 7, 1926 by Violet Gibson, an Irish woman and sister of Baron Ashbourne. In January 1927, Anteo Zamboni attempted to shoot Mussolini in Bologna. Zamboni was lynched on the spot. Mussolini also survived a failed assassination attempt in Rome by anarchist Gino Lucetti, and a planned attempt by Michael Schirru, which ended with Schirru's capture and execution.

At various times after 1922, Benito Mussolini personally took over the ministries of the interior, foreign affairs, colonies, corporations, defense, and public works. Sometimes he held as many as seven departments simultaneously, as well as the premiership. He was also head of the all-powerful Fascist Party and the armed local fascist militia, the MVSN or "Blackshirts," who terrorised incipient resistances in the cities and provinces. He would later form the OVRA, an institutionalised secret police that carried official state support. In this way he succeeded in keeping power in his own hands and preventing the emergence of any rival. Over the next two years, Mussolini progressively dismantled all constitutional and conventional restraints on his power, thereby building a police state. A law passed on Christmas Eve 1925 changed Mussolini's title from "president of the Council of Ministers" (prime minister) to "head of the government." He was no longer responsible to Parliament and could only be removed by the king--something that was technically already true under the Italian constitution (which stated that ministers were responsible to the sovereign). Only Mussolini could determine the body's agenda. Local autonomy was abolished, and podestas appointed by the Italian Senate replaced elected mayors and councils. All other parties were outlawed in 1928, though in practice Italy had been a one-party state since Mussolini's 1925 speech. In the same year, an electoral law abolished parliamentary elections. Instead, the Grand Council of Fascism selected a single list of candidates to be approved by plebiscite. The Grand Council had been created five years earlier as a party body but was "constitutionalised" and became the highest constitutional authority in the state.

Benito Mussolini launched several public construction programs and government initiatives throughout Italy to combat economic setbacks or unemployment levels. His earliest, and one of the best known, was Italy's equivalent of the Green Revolution, known as the "Battle for Grain", in which 5,000 new farms were established and five new agricultural towns on land reclaimed by draining the Pontine Marshes. This plan diverted valuable resources to grain production, away from other less economically viable crops. The huge tariffs associated with the project promoted widespread inefficiencies, and the government subsidies given to farmers pushed the country further into debt. Mussolini also initiated the "Battle for Land", a policy based on land reclamation outlined in 1928. The initiative had a mixed success; while projects such as the draining of the Pontine Marsh in 1935 for agriculture were good for propaganda purposes, provided work for the unemployed and allowed for great land owners to control subsidies, other areas in the Battle for Land were not very successful. This program was inconsistent with the Battle for Grain (small plots of land were inappropriately allocated for large-scale wheat production), and the Pontine Marsh was lost during World War II. Fewer than 10,000 peasants resettled on the redistributed land, and peasant poverty remained high. The Battle for Land initiative was abandoned in 1940. He also combated an economic recession by introducing the "Gold for the Fatherland" initiative, by encouraging the public to voluntarily donate gold jewellery such as necklaces and wedding rings to government officials in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the words "Gold for the Fatherland". Even Rachele Mussolini donated her own wedding ring. The collected gold was then melted down and turned into gold bars, which were then distributed to the national banks. Benito Mussolini pushed for government control of business: by 1935, Mussolini claimed that three quarters of Italian businesses were under state control. That same year, he issued several edicts to further control the economy, including forcing all banks, businesses, and private citizens to give up all their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the Bank of Italy. In 1938, he also instituted wage and price controls. He also attempted to turn Italy into a self-sufficient autarky, instituting high barriers on trade with most countries except Germany.

Benito Mussolini's foremost priority was the subjugation of the minds of the Italian people and the use of propaganda to do so; whether at home or abroad, and here his training as a journalist was invaluable. Press, radio, education, films all were carefully supervised to create the illusion that fascism was the doctrine of the twentieth century, replacing liberalism and democracy. The principles of this doctrine were laid down in the article on fascism, written by Giovanni Gentile and signed by Mussolini that appeared in 1932 in the Enciclopedia Italiana. In 1929, a concordat with the Vatican was signed, the Lateran treaties, by which the Italian state was at last recognised by the Roman Catholic Church, and the independence of Vatican City was recognised by the Italian state. In 1927, Mussolini was baptised by a Roman Catholic priest in order to take away certain Catholic opposition, who were still very critical of a regime which had taken away papal property and virtually blackmailed the Vatican. Since 1927, and more even after 1929, Mussolini, with his anti-Communist doctrines, convinced many Catholics to actively support him. In the encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno, Pope Pius XI attacked the Fascist regime for its policy against the Catholic Action and certain tendencies to overrule Catholic education morals. The law codes of the parliamentary system were rewritten under Mussolini. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the fascist regime. Newspaper editors were all personally chosen by Mussolini and no one who did not possess a certificate of approval from the fascist party could practice journalism. These certificates were issued in secret; Mussolini thus skillfully created the illusion of a "free press". The trade unions were also deprived of any independence and were integrated into what was called the "corporative" system. The aim (never completely achieved), inspired by medieval guilds, was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or "corporations", all of which were under clandestine governmental control. Large sums of money were spent on highly visible public works, and on international prestige projects such as the SS Rex Blue Riband ocean liner and aeronautical achievements such as the world's fastest seaplane the Macchi M.C.72 and the transatlantic flying boat cruise of Italo Balbo, who was greeted with much fanfare in the United States when he landed in Chicago.

In foreign policy, Benito Mussolini soon shifted from the pacifist anti-imperialism of his lead-up to power to an extreme form of nationalism. An early example was his bombardment of Corfu in 1923. Soon after he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and in ruthlessly consolidating Italian power in Libya, which had been loosely a colony since 1912. It was his dream to make the Mediterranean mare nostrum ("our sea" in Latin), and he established a large naval base on the Greek island of Leros to enforce a strategic hold on the eastern Mediterranean.

In an effort to realise an Italian Empire or the New Roman Empire as supporters called it, Italy set its sights on Ethiopia with an invasion that was carried out rapidly. Italy's forces were far superior to the Abyssinian forces, especially in regards to air power and were soon declared victors. Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee the country, with Italy entering the capital Addis Ababa to proclaim an Empire by May 1936, making Ethiopia part of Italian East Africa. Despite the fact that all of the major European powers of the time had also colonised parts of Africa, including some who maintained power by particularly brutal means such as the French and British, detractors of Mussolini commonly choose to single out Italy's actions. Retroactively, Italy was criticised for its use of mustard gas and phosgene against its enemies and also for its zero tolerance approach to enemy guerrillas, allegedly authorised by Mussolini. When Rodolfo Graziani the viceroy of Ethiopia was nearly assassinated at an official ceremony, with the guerrilla bomb actually exploding among the people there, a very stronghanded reaction followed against the guerrillas, including those who were prisoners according to the International Red Cross. The IRC also alleged that Italy bombed their tents in areas of guerrillas military encampment; though Italy denied it had intended to, insisting that the rebels were targeted. It wasn't until the East African Campaign's conclusion in 1941 that Italy lost its East African territories, after taking on a fourteen nation allied force.

His active intervention in 1936-1939 on the side of Franco in the Spanish Civil War ended any possibility of reconciliation with France and Britain. As a result, his relationship with Adolf Hitler became closer, and he chose to accept the German annexation of Austria in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. At the Munich Conference in September 1938, he posed as a moderate working for European peace, helping Nazi Germany seize control of the Sudetenland. His "axis" with Germany was confirmed when he made the "Pact of Steel" with Hitler in May 1939, as the previous "Rome-Berlin Axis" of 1936 had been unofficial. Members of TIGR, a Slovene anti-fascist group, plotted to kill Mussolini in Kobarid in 1938, but their attempt was unsuccessful.

The term "Axis Powers" was coined by Mussolini in November 1936 when he spoke of a Rome-Berlin axis in reference to the treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Germany on October 25, 1936. His "Axis" with Germany was confirmed when he made another treaty with Germany in May 1939. Benito Mussolini described the relationship with Germany as a "Pact of Steel", something he had earlier referred to as a "Pact of Blood". Germany's influence on Italian policy increased, which alarmed many Italian citizens and proved unpopular. King Victor Emanuel III was also wary of this new axis, favouring the more traditional allies of Britain and France.

As World War II approached, Mussolini announced his intention of annexing Malta, Corsica, and Tunis. He spoke of creating a "New Roman Empire" that would stretch east to Palestine and south through Libya and Egypt to Kenya. Benito Mussolini's imperial ambitions focused on Albania. Italian forces had been humiliated there in 1920 by Albanian nationalist forces. The Italians were driven out of VlorŽ which they had occupied for six years since 1914. If there was a single thread running through the fabric of Mussolini's imperial ambitions it was the need to restore Italy's honor. Benito Mussolini decided to invade Albania while the world was focused on German actions in Czechoslovakia and possible war against Poland.

While the world was preoccupied with Hitler's aggressions, Italian forces crossed the Adriatic Sea headed for the small nation of Albania. On April 7, 1939, Italy invaded Albania. Despite some initial resistance, especially at DurrŽs, the Italians quickly took control of the country. Albania's leader, King Zog, was forced to flee. World War II in Europe began on September 1, 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland and, in response, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany. Mussolini decided to remain non-belligerent in the conflict until he was quite certain which side would win.

On June 10, 1940, Mussolini finally declared war on Britain and France. Italian forces on the French border were able to make limited gains with a battle in southern France facing the fortified Alpine Line before France surrendered to Germany. In an ominous sign of things to come, Italian gains were literally measured in yards. As soon as war was declared, Mussolini sent his forces in Italian East Africa to attack British forces in the Sudan, Kenya, and British Somaliland during what became known as the East African Campaign. On August 3, 1940, Italian forces invaded and occupied all of British Somaliland. In addition to this, other Italian forces in East Africa made limited advance into Sudan and Kenya. By the end of 1940, however, supply issues caused the isolated Italians in East Africa to halt any further advances and, instead, they began to fortify their positions against Allied counterattacks. Initially, the Italian forces in Libya limited their activities against the British forces in Egypt to skirmishes. On September 13, 1940, the Italian Tenth Army commanded by General Rodolfo Graziani crossed the border and launched the first major attack of what was to become the Western Desert Campaign. After advancing successfully for three days, the Italian forces in Egypt halted their advance at Sidi Barrani to wait for logistic supply to catch up. Graziani planned to continue the offensive afterwards but did not get a chance to do so. On October 25, 1940, Mussolini sent the Corpo Aereo Italiano (Italian Air Corps or CAI) to Belgium. He sent this expeditionary air force contingent in order to take part in the Battle of Britain. The mixed Italian fighter/bomber force achieved limited success against Allied forces, and was retired by early 1941. On October 28, 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces gathered in Albania and commanded by General Sebastiano Visconti Prasca into Greece. This started the Greco-Italian War. But, after a brief period of success, the Italian offensive which had been poorly coordinated, mainly due to Mussolini's personal involvement in its planning, were repelled by a relentless Greek counterattack. This resulted in the loss of one-quarter of Italian-controlled Albania. The Italian forces in Albania were stalled, and Mussolini asked Germany for assistance. Hitler soon committed forces to the Balkans in opposition to the Allies who hurried to defend Greece.

In December 1940, the British in Egypt launched Operation Compass. What started as a limited action to force the Italians back into Libya soon had British forces advancing to Bardia, Tobruk, and beyond. In January 1941, the British in East Africa launched a three pronged invasion of Italian East Africa. The Italians fought back hard, but their defense started to crumble after the Battle of Keren in April. By February 7, 1941, the British had completed Operation Compass in North Africa, which resulted in the near total destruction of the Italian Tenth Army and the capture of Cyrenaica. On February 12, the German Afrika Korps arrived to support the Italian forces. On May 18, 1941, the commander of the Italian forces in East Africa, the Duke of Aosta, surrendered to the British at his stronghold of Amba Alagi, although organized Italian resistance in East Africa did not end until November of the same year when the stronghold of Gondar was surrendered. In April 1941, Italian forces took part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia with independent axis of attack in support of other Axis armies, capturing some 30,000 prisoners during the brief campaign while suffering 3,324 losses themselves. The same month, the Battle of Greece ended in Axis victory with the support of German and Bulgarian armies. In June 1941, with the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Mussolini declared war on the Soviet Union and sent an army to fight there. In December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he declared war on the United States.

By the summer of 1943, following the Axis defeat in North Africa, setbacks on the Eastern Front, and the Anglo-American landing in Sicily, most of Mussolini's colleagues (including Grandi and Count Galeazzo Ciano, former foreign minister and Mussolini's son-in-law) turned against him. Italy's position had become untenable by this time, and court circles were already putting out feelers to the Allies. The home front was also starting to come apart at the seams. It had already been in a precarious position at the war's start due to a shortage of raw materials, clothing and food. Heavy Allied bombing (especially starting in 1942) ground production at the northern factories to a virtual standstill, causing the first major strikes since Mussolini had dropped all trappings of democracy in 1925. By March 1943, conditions had become so precarious that the major factories in Milan and Turin stopped production to secure evacuation allowances for workers' families. Mussolini's once-ubiquitous propaganda machine lost its grip on the population; many Italians turned to Vatican Radio or Radio London for more accurate news coverage. By April 1943, the leading anti-Fascist movements had joined forces to overthrow Mussolini. On the night of July 24, Mussolini summoned the Grand Council of Fascism to its first meeting since the start of the war. At this meeting, Mussolini announced that the Germans were thinking of evacuating the south. This led Grandi to launch a blistering attack on his longtime comrade. Grandi moved a resolution asking the king to resume his full constitutional powers in effect, a vote of no confidence in Mussolini. The motion carried by an unexpectedly large margin, 19-7. Benito Mussolini did not think the vote had any substantive value and appeared for work the next morning as normal. That afternoon, King Victor Emmanuel III summoned him to the palace and dismissed him from office. He'd been planning to oust Mussolini himself even before the Grand Council vote. Upon leaving the palace, Mussolini was arrested. For the next two months he was moved to various places to hide him from the Germans. Ultimately Mussolini was sent to Campo Imperatore, a mountain resort in central Italy (Abruzzo). He was kept there in complete isolation. Benito Mussolini was replaced by Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) Pietro Badoglio, who immediately declared in a famous speech, "La guerra continua a fianco dell'alleato germanico" ("The war continues at the side of our Germanic ally"). In fact, Badoglio was working to negotiate a surrender. On September 3, 1943, Badoglio signed an armistice with the Allies. The armistice was made public by the Allies five days later, throwing Italy into chaos. Badoglio and the king, fearing German retaliation, fled from Rome. They left the entire Italian Army without orders. Many units simply disbanded; some reached the Allied-controlled zone and surrendered; a few decided to start a partisan war against the German Army; and a few rejected the switch of sides and remained allied with the Germans. In retaliation for the Italian armistice, the Germans launched Operation Axis (Operation Achse) which included the ruthless disarming of the Italian Army.

On 12 September 1943, two months after he was stripped of power, Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Operation Oak (Unternehmen Eiche). This was a raid planned by General Kurt Student and carried out by SS Lieutenant Colonel (ObersturmbannfŁhrer) Otto Skorzeny. The Germans relocated Mussolini to northern Italy where he set up a new fascist state, the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI). Benito Mussolini lived in Gargnano on Lake Garda in Lombardy during this period but he was little more than a puppet under the protection of his German liberators. After yielding to pressures from Hitler and the remaining loyal fascists who formed the government of the Republic of Salo, Mussolini helped orchestrate a series of executions of some of the fascist leaders who had betrayed him at the last meeting of the Fascist Grand Council. As Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini used much of his time to write his memoirs. Along with his autobiographical writings of 1928, these writings would be combined and published by Da Capo Press as My Rise and Fall.

Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were stopped by communist partisans and identified by the political commissar of the partisans' 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro, on April 27, 1945, near the village of Dongo (Lake Como), as they headed for Switzerland to board a plane to escape to Spain. Benito Mussolini had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family. The next day, Mussolini and his mistress were both shot, along with most of the members of their 15-man train, primarily ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic. The shootings took place in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra. According to the official version of events, the shootings were conducted by "Colonel Valerio" (Colonnello Valerio). Valerio's real name was Walter Audisio. Audisio was the communist partisan commander who was reportedly given the order to kill Mussolini by the National Liberation Committee. When Audisio entered the room where Mussolini and the other fascists were being held, he reportedly announced: "I have come to rescue you!... Do you have any weapons?", He then had them loaded into transports, driven a short distance, Audisio ordered "get down", Petacci hugged Mussolini and refused to move away from him when they were taken to an empty space. Shots were fired and Petacci fell down, just then Mussolini opened his Jacket and screamed "Shoot me in the chest!". Audisio shot him in the chest, Mussolini fell down but he didn't die, he was breathing heavily, Audisio went near and he shot one more bullet in his chest.

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